We saw Zidane at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room last night. The room is not large, maybe 200 seats, and was packed, largely with soccer teams and their coaches. We were two of a few “civilians.”

I expected to see the familiar number 10 of the French national team, and of course, the famous head butt. But no, seventeen cameras focus on Zinedine Zidane for an entire, regular season soccer match, Real Madrid vs. Villareal, April 23, 2005. Zidane wears number 5 for Real Madrid.

This is an amazing film. For me, it defines the art of the motion picture. IMDb mentioned it as a “conceptual art installation.”

What we see on the big screen is Zidane; his face, his head, the back of his neck, his torso, his feet, sometimes his whole body. He stands, jogs, runs, handles the ball, whatever the match situation calls for. He sweats, spits, blows his nose, says very little. His expression rarely changes. We see Zidane assist on a goal as he kicks the ball across the face of the goal, to be scored on a header by a teammate. It is one of the few instances where the camera follows the ball. We see a few brief shots of a black and white video monitor and a few brief shots from the stadium roof, otherwise we don”t see the match, just Zidane. From time to time, quotes from Zidane interviews are shown as subtitles.

The film is in real time, and at half-time, news clips of things going on in the world on that day, are shown.

The sound may be even more amazing. We hear in turn, silence, the roar of maybe 80,000 rabid soccer fans, the thunk of his foot against the ball, the skidding sound of the ball on the turf, footsteps digging in the turf, a musical monotone building and fading as the action warrants.

I found the film a joy; I delighted in the clarity of the pictures moving before me. I felt as if I were in a photo gallery, passing from one photograph to the next, always thrilled by the image at hand. I was mesmerized. Carol was bored silly.

Zidane played at Sundance last year, but has not secured distribution in the US.

Here is a review from the Guardian, and a Wired review from Sundance.



2 thoughts on “Zidane

  1. It sounds like a great experience — definitely one I’d like to experience on the big screen (especially in a cushy screening room!) rather than on DVD, but I doubt it will make our local. Perhaps the Maine International Film festival will pick it up.

    I read the reviews you linked to, and they included a few more of the ZZ quotes used in the film. His perspective on “how” he plays the game echoes quotes from many other great athletes that I’ve read about. They don’t really know how they do things (like score or make a great play), they just do them — what they do know is everything else that goes on around them at that moment, as well as what is about to happen. So basically excellence in sports is largely a matter of total awareness plus the power of positive thinking. Physical fitness appears to be only a minor factor, especially at the professional ranks where the real difference in physical gifts between athletes is so small. Jordon wasn’t great because he was bigger, stronger, faster; he was great because he needed to be great. And he didn’t win championships when he was dunking from the foul line; he won them after he stopped doing that nonsense and joined the team. The same with Brady — 6’5″ QBs with rocket arms are a dime a dozen in the NFL and most of them hold clipboards during the game. Likewise, what changed in Eli Manning at the end of their season was not physical, it was totally mental.


  2. Thanks for the comment, it’s right on.

    90% of the match, Zidane was standing around or jogging to and fro, but when an opportunity presented itself, he was off like lightening and into the action. Then back to the standing, jogging, always alert. We can hear what he is hearing, but we can see only an expressionless Zidane.

    This screening room wasn’t exactly “cushy,” like the Dolby Screening Room where I saw “4 months…” but it was nice, and had the big screen and excellent sound.


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